Lucerne and Bern, Switzerland

[Sept 16, 2007]

After we made our descent from Mount Titlis, Paul told us he was going to bring us to 3 cities for sightseeing. He triple reminded us not to screw his schedule up again or else we would have ourselves to blame for missing out on 1 of the cities. Paul’s words sunk in, and today was the first time that we actually did not waste time lingering around longer than necessary.

Lucerne [Luzern]

First city we stopped at was Lucerne. The bus stopped very near to this monument that we were going to visit.

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Lowendenkmal [Lion Monument]
Lowendenkmal was built to commemorate the Swiss Guards that fought bravely (and was massacred) during that bloody French Revolution. I don’t know why, but when I saw this lion, I actually thought of Narnia. You know, that talking lion, Aslan?

And then we were brought to the waterfront to see Lake Lucerne.

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Lake Lucerne
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Lake Lucerne

I love this place! The lake is so lovely and serene. I could imagine myself living here someday. Imagination is good

From the lake, we traced our way inwards. Lucerne is a city built on the mouth of the Reuss River.

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Reuss River
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Reuss River

There are many bridges across this river, the most famous one also being the one closest to the lakefront, the Kapellbrucke [Chapel Bridge]. This bridge is famous because there is a big tower on one end of it, called the Wasserturm [Water Tower].

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Kapellbrucke and Wasserturm
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Goose, Kapellbrucke and Wasserturm

It was not all guided walk here though. We were supposed to find our own lunch in Lucerne, so Paul set us off to roam on ourselves with an hour’s time limit.

We could’ve wandered around the streets, looking for food and more sights. But then, we decided that we needed to look for toilet, and the only place that we could think of that has public toilets, and were within sights, were this…

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Luzern train station

It was a very nice train station, much nicer and cleaner than the other one that we went into in Cologne.

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Luzern train station
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Nice vintage looking train

We spent some time exploring the train station instead. We also got our lunch here. Well, I have to admit, lunch from train stations are much better compared to McDonald’s or Chinese restaurant dinners.

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Lunch
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Lunch

And then, the one hour was almost up and we scurried back to the tour bus. When we got back, everyone else was also just arriving. This was the first time that all of us were punctual, and we were able to leave for our next destination, on time.

Bern

Our next stop was Bern. This was a quick stop, we were basically just brought to this street called Kramgrasse [Grocer Valley]. It is sort of like the main street on the medieval town center part of the city.

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Kramgrasse

It was on this street that I discovered that the Arsenal’s manager shares the same namesake as one of the Swiss army knives’ manufacturer. I was amused.

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In Wenger we trust!

But that’s not why Paul brought us to this street. He brought us here to see two things. Thing number 1: Zytglogge. The Zytglogge was a multipurpose tower back in the days, it was a clock tower, guard tower, prison, civic memorial, and urban life center. Today it is just a tourist attraction.

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Zytglogge

Thing number 2: Kramgrasse No 49, Einsteinhaus.

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Einsteinhaus

This used to be where Leonardo da Vinci lived in. I’m telling you the truth here. Einstein is the Swiss name for Leonardo da Vinci. Trust me. By the way, trust me also when I say the Golden Gate Bridge is located not in San Francisco but in Kuala Lumpur.

There is another thing that we did see in Bern, but I could not find the pictures for it. It was a bear statue by the River Aare which Bern was built upon. Now the bear is a big deal in Bern. Legend has it, the founder of the city slain a bear when hunting in this area and decided to name the city after this animal. In the old Nordic language, bjorn means bear, and then somehow the name of the city became Bern instead.

Please don’t laugh at this story, especially Malaysians and Singaporeans. You know how we got our names, don’t you?

Anyway, that’s all we got to see in Bern before we were ushered back onto the bus to proceed to our third and last city.

Third city

Except that, the third city never happened. No, it wasn’t our fault this time. We did not drag our feet and delayed the schedule at all.

We were supposed to head to Lausanne, but halfway through the bus ride, this happened..

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Yeah, the bus ran out of fuel, and we were stranded by the road side. Apparently, Steve (our bus driver) overestimated the bus tank’s capacity by a bit. The next service area where he planned to refuel was a few kilometers away. So, he left us on the bus and made his way to the service area, by foot. He made it back to the bus an hour later, poured some fuel into the bus, and got the bus moving again.

Except, the bus konked out again just as it entered the service area. This time, the bus refused to start again. Apparently running on an empty gas tank damages big diesel engine. In the end, the bus had to be towed away.

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And we had to wait for a couple hours at the service area for a replacement bus to come and rescue us. By that time it was super late in the night, and we had to go straight to the hotel instead.

So, you see, Italy was kind of frustrating as a whole, but the last bits (Milan) made me feel better. With Switzerland, it was the other way round. Lovely, nice cities, but kind of ruined in the end.

And that was how our (tour) adventures in Switzerland ended, for the next day we would be heading to the final destination of our Europe Tour…

 

28 Comments

  1. Ive never been to Switzerland or on that matter in any tour group traveling through multiple cities. Did you had any real relaxation time during those trips? I love to discover cities on my own so I would probably go crazy in such a group 🙂
    I must agree, many railwaystations seem to have pretty good food. This week we will still head to Hamburg and we will eat at the railwaystation 😀

    • Of course not, tours are not supposed to be relaxing at all. I don’t think I will do tours anymore now, but back then, it was a good idea as we did not know where to go or what to do, we just knew that we wanted to visit as many countries as possible.

      It is quite amazing to me, but I think in Europe, food in railway stations and service areas by the highways have always been pretty decent.

  2. Interesting to hear you say the food tastes better at train stations. It could just be that train station. In Australia, that’s the last place I would go get something to eat. But those smiley face things look good.

    Imagination is good. It certainly is as that’s the place where all dreams can come true :d

    • Well, not better, just better than Chinese restaurants and McDonald’s, in Europe. I’ll make the comparisons in Australia, when I go to Australia. 😀

  3. Oh dear, what an experience to be on a bus that run out of fuel!

    Thought that kind of stuff only happen here in Malaysia. 😛

    • Happens everywhere, I guess. Even in the US, I have seen before trucks stranded just outside service areas.

    • Hahaha of course 1 slice! That pizza stall is like… I don’t know, like what a char kuay teow stall is, 1 slice of pizza is already a meal! 😀

  4. I always heard this Lucerne is a quaint town but its Lake Lucerne is like heavens. How I wish to sip coffee and read book by this lake someday. I won’t ever take tour buses like you with such a terrible guide and driver who could drive the bus till no gas!!!! Muahahaha
    This is the first time I hear that I tour bus habis minyak!! From what I know, many buses in China carry a small tin of spare petrol during long distance routes.

    Which is a better place to stay longer to explore?? Lausanne or Lucerne? Making notes now.

    • Well, as you can see, I was not able to get to Lausanne, so I wouldn’t know how to compare them both. Between Lucerne and Bern though, I think Lucerne is nicer. Of course, my sample size is just one or two streets per city, so I might be wrong.

  5. No need to say, I’ve never been to Lucerne (and most of the places you blog about) but they are indeed all beautiful.. You post beautiful pictures, like postcards, and I like that.. Eh everywhere you go, you wear harm choy round-neck t-shirt, hehehe..

  6. We stayed in Lucerne near the lake so we could walk around the place – it was one of the highlight of our tour. What an adventure – the bus running out of fuel and then broke down. Do you think Steve the bus driver would have to pay for damaging the bus?

    I don’t understand why you made the following remark:

    “Please don’t laugh at this story, especially Malaysians and Singaporeans. You know how we got our names, don’t you?”

    Why would M’sians and S’reans laugh at the story? And how did we get what names? I don’t know how the name Msia came about and the other name got something to do with Singa?

    • I don’t know about who would have to pay for the bus repairs. Never thought about that. I hope not Steve, he seems to have been underpaid already. 😐

      I’m just making a preemptive statement, I don’t specifically means you guys who comment regularly, but I find recently that a lot of Malaysians and Singaporeans on cyber-world are becoming an unaccommodating bunch who will scorn, laugh and taunt at just about anything. Maybe it is not just us but something common worldwide, but I’ve been seeing mostly us, so…

      Aiya, Malaysians, our history books start with Malacca what, you forgot how the legend goes? Parameswara saw a deer defeat a tiger (or something like that) and decided to build a country in that area. Then Singapura, yes the fleeing Srivijaya prince name it after seeing the Singa (lion) there…

  7. Lucerne is a beautiful place, but I have not been there.. as for Bern, I was brought there but really it was so forgettable, probably it was just a brief stay and if not mistaken we were brought to see a bear and that’s it.. haha!!

    • The bear is very important to the people of Bern hahaha! It is like the Merlion to the Singaporeans! 😀

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